In the last post, this blog discussed a recent Minnesota Court of Appeals decision that involved a 17-year-old driver convicted of charges of driving while impaired and underage drinking and driving charges. It is important to note that the implied consent and DWI laws apply to all drivers. But, Minnesota law also provides a separate provision and separate standards for underage drivers.
Minnesota law imposes a zero tolerance standard for underage drinking and driving charges. While persons under the age of 21 are subject to DWI and implied consent laws, a separate misdemeanor offense also applies to underage drinking and driving. A recent unpublished Minnesota Court of Appeals decision shows that both standards apply to underage drivers.
It is important to note that other distinctions exist between underage drinking and driving and DWI laws that were not part of the court’s decision. For instance, the impact on a driver’s privilege to drive differs for underage drivers. In underage cases, a license suspension is mandatory after a conviction for the offense.
In DWI cases, a license revocation follows a DWI arrest, and is challenged separately from the DWI charge. Drivers have a short amount of time to challenge a revocation based upon a DWI arrest. In underage cases that do not also involve DWI charges, the license suspension flows from any conviction of underage drinking and driving charges.
The license revocation period is also longer if an underage driver is convicted of DWI. For instance, the normal 90-day revocation period that applies to an adult driver accused of a first time offense with a BAC reading of 0.08 percent to 0.15 percent, is doubled to 180 days for an underage driver accused of DWI.
Obviously driving offenses involving allegations of alcohol have a wide variety of other differences. It is important to discuss any Minnesota charges with an experienced defense lawyer to learn what defenses and challenges may be available in individual circumstances.
- Minnesota Court of Appeals, “State v. A.V., A11-869,” March 26, 2012
- Minnesota Statutes Section 169A